A viral claim stating that the Oregon wildfires were started deliberately by political activist groups including Antifa is found to be fake. The hoax was quashed by the sheriff's office in Jackson county, Oregon, on their official Facebook page.
In what is being deemed as the worst wildfire in nearly three decades, the wildfire killed at least three people and ravaged many towns. It has forced many to evacuate their homes. On Thursday, Oregon's governor Kate Brown said that more than 900,000 acres have burned across the state in the last several days due to the wildfires.
What Started the Rumors of Involvement of Political Activists in Wildfire?
The rumors started after a doctored Facebook post from the Medford Police Department claimed that based on an anonymous tip five persons were arrested in connection with a string of fires though the area. The fake post also claimed that several firestarting implements were also seized from the back of their trucks.
The post was shared several times on the social media sites, forcing the Medford police authorities to clear the same. In a post made through the official Facebook account, the authorities while sharing the doctored post, wrote: "This is a made up graphic and story. We did not arrest this person for arson, nor anyone affiliated with Antifa or "Proud Boys" as we've heard throughout the day. Also, no confirmed gatherings of Antifa which has also been reported. Please flag or ignore this post if you see it. Thank you."
According to The Guardian, the rumors further gained momentum after Law Enforcement Today published an article claiming that the wildfires across the west coast are part of a 'coordinated and planned attack'.
Citing a single anonymous 'federal law enforcement source' the website stated: "There are current concerns and allegations that many of these people who have started fires may be related to Antifa. However, these allegations have not be [sic] confirmed."
Police Officials Quash the Viral Fake Claims
Falling prey to the fake claims, the Paul J. Romero, a former Republican candidate for Senate, tweeted: "Oregon is on fire! Pallet Company in Oregon City confirmed Antifa arsonist on camera. Douglas County Sheriff has 6 ANTIFA arsonists in custody. Many fires in Oregon. Obviously there are more to track down and arrest. Governor Kate Brown built this."
However, stating that they have found of linking the wildfires with the political activists. In a Facebook post sheriff's office in Jackson county, Oregon, wrote: "We are inundated with questions about things that are FAKE stories. Rumors make the job of protecting the community more difficult."
"Rumors spread just like wildfire and now our 9-1-1 dispatchers and professional staff are being overrun with requests for information and inquiries on an UNTRUE rumor that 6 Antifa members have been arrested for setting fires in DOUGLAS COUNTY, OREGON," the Douglas county sheriff's office posted on Facebook on Thursday.
Speaking to Oregonian, the Ashland police chief said that the rumor about the wildfires being set by Antifa is 100% false information. "We have some leads, and none of it points in that direction," he added.